Victorian iron works in North Shields set to be transformed into a creative space
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Geoff Kirkwood, an internationally-renowned DJ, producer, musician and label owner better known as Man Power, has bought a former Victorian iron merchants building in North Shields as he looks to transform it to play a new role in the cultural future of the town.
131 Bedford Street, which has now been renamed as The Haswell Building, will be renovated into affordable spaces for creatives and artists, with the potential to split the three-storey building into studios, workspaces, offices and more.
First built in 1874 as an iron merchants, the building is at the bottom of the hill at the junction with Bell Street and Clive Street.
More recently, it has been the local Labour Party headquarters and North Tyneside Council offices but has been empty since July 2012 after a storm caused damage to the roof.
Geoff, who is from Battle Hill but now lives in Tynemouth, has spoken about what he sees for the future of the building and has outlined the potential that it has for creative minds in North Tyneside.
He said: “We want this to be a place where brand new creative businesses can incubate, established artists can co-exist and where both can work together and learn from each other.
“North Tyneside is full of creative energy. It’s jammed with people doing great things and with great ideas.
“We just want to make it more affordable to do it where we live, in a way that connects people and creates a sustainable bedrock for a creative community.
“The building has so much potential, it’s huge and there’s lots of scope for big and small spaces for activities and ideas.
“In the last five years I’ve worked with a varied range of large creative and social organisations, government bodies, charities and arts organisations in the UK and around the world.
“I’m a creative person from the North East myself and I’ve found myself living and working here once again.
“All of this has really helped us zero-in on what we truly believe can best help other creative people and businesses from the North East.
“It’s literally on my doorstep so I want to play my part in the regeneration of North Shields and the growth of the cultural economy, I share that vision for the future of the town.”
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Cllr Carl Johnson, Deputy Mayor of North Tyneside and Cabinet Member for Regeneration, has stated that the plans for the building align with the Council’s overall plans for North Shields.
He added: “We are delighted that this former council building will now play a part in the cultural future of the town.
“Our ambitious plans for North Shields include the creation of a new Cultural Quarter, to bring stronger connections between the town centre and the Fish Quay, and to build a stronger and more diverse local economy.“